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Insect sting allergy. A study from 1980 to 2003 of patients who started treatment with venom immunotherapy between 1980 and 1998

DOI: 10.1186/1476-7961-3-12

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This is an open, single centre study on patients treated with venom IT 14 years or older with a history of a systemic allergic reaction to an insect sting, a positive skin prick test (SPT) or a positive RAST and willingness to comply with five years of IT. Clinical and laboratory data were registered prospectively at the start of IT and after five years of treatment until 2003 on patients who started IT between 1980 and 1998. Questionnaires were answered in 1989, 1993 and 2003. Statistical analysis was done with Pearson's chi square, Fisher's exact or the t-test.Of 315 patients treated, 44 were given bee, 248 common wasp and 23 both venoms. Of the common wasp sting incidents 5.5 % resulted in a severe allergic reaction (SAR) during adequate IT and 22% after cessation. Seventy-one per cent of the patients carried epinephrine. Precautionary steps were taken by 77% of the patients during or after inadequate IT. On or after adequate IT 83% felt completely or substantially safe. Surprisingly 29 % of those inadequately treated felt safer and 50% were satisfied with having had the opportunity to be treated. The SPT became negative in 68% of the wasp allergic patients after five years of adequate IT. Increased risk of experiencing SAR to a future sting in wasp allergic patients after cessation of adequate IT was significantly associated with a SAR due to IT during the rush regimen. SAR due to IT occurred very rarely during maintenance dosing.Adequate venom IT is very effective while ongoing but somewhat less effective after cessation, while inadequate treatment gives poor results. More of our patients should complete five years of IT and some should continue IT. The type of reaction to IT during incremental dosing may be of help in deciding who should continue beyond five years. Maintenance IT may be taken over by the general physician.After the study of Hunt et al [1] was published in 1978 showing the ineffectiveness of whole body insect extracts, we stopped using whole bo


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